An Antonov An-26 passenger aircraft has crashed in the Kamchatka Peninsula in Russia’s far east, with all 28 people on board feared dead, according to local authorities.
The Soviet-era twin-engined turboprop aircraft, registered RA-26085, was performing flight PTK-251 from regional capital Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky to a small village in the peninsula’s north, Palana, when it is said to have lost contact with air traffic control minutes before its scheduled landing.
Search efforts for the aircraft began shortly after the aircraft disappeared off radars and was unable to be contacted.
The crash location is said to have now been located by local emergency services, with debris from the aircraft found both on land and in the sea.
No survivors have been located at present.
The approach to runway 12 (from the west) at Palana (UHPL) requires sufficient visibility to clear the high rising coastline before turning to the runway. It is strongly believed the An-26 collided with the upper edge of the cliff while operating in reduced visibility conditions. pic.twitter.com/0qYtmU1c44
— JACDEC (@JacdecNew) July 6, 2021
Authorities currently believe the plane crashed into a cliffside as it was preparing to land, due to poor visibility at the time. According to Russian news agencies, the weather was cloudy at the time of the crash.
Russia’s national air transport agency Rosaviatsiya reported that the mountains around the village of Palana were covered in clouds at the time, with a broken ceiling at 1,000 feet MSL, and overcast at 2,400 feet.
Some other local reports suggest fog was present, which also hindered search and rescue efforts.
While it is largely believed that weather and poor visibility were the likely cause of the crash, particularly due to the nature of the approach into Palana, the incident is currently being investigated by local aviation safety authorities.
The aircraft itself has been in service since 1982, however the regional aviation authority stated that aircraft had previously passed all safety checks and was deemed fit for service.
A similar incident occurred nearly 10 years ago in 2012, when an Antonov An-28 crashed 10 kilometres south-west of Palana Airport, killing 10 occupants and leaving four others with serious injured.
It was later revealed that the pilots operating that aircraft were flying while under the influence of alcohol.